German Shepherds need at least two hours of exercise every day. The have a lot of stamina, which means that they usually can’t go without this much exercise.
That being said, it depends at least in part on how old they are. German Shepherds may need less exercise as time goes on:
- GS Puppies: Young German Shepherds get bursts of energy and then tire themselves out quickly. In general, they’ll need two vigorous 15-20 minute sessions each day. More than likely, this will be followed by nap time.
- Adult GSs: Fully grown German Shepherds will normally want a full hour or two of exercise. They might get bored stiff and then become agitated if they don’t get it.
- Older GS dogs will grow tired after a vigorous 30-45 minute exercise session. Don’t force an older dog to do more exercise than he or she can reasonably handle.
Your dog’s personality could also influence how much exercise he or she needs. Some dogs are naturally lethargic and might want to run around much less than others.
If that’s the case, then make sure that your dog doesn’t start to gain too much weight. It’s easy for these kinds of animals to become listless after all.
How Long Should a German Shepherd be Walked?
A typical mature German Shepherd may want to walk for around 90 minutes to two hours. At normal speeds, this would translate into around 5-10 miles of distance.
In general, younger German Shepherds shouldn’t walk for more than 5 minutes for each month they’ve been around. That means that a 10 minute walk should satisfy a two-month-old dog.
Three-month-old dogs would need a 15 minute walk and so forth. Eventually, you’ll find that your dog will probably want to talk longer and longer walks until they start going for a full hour or longer.
Some German Shepherds, especially those from small breed pools, will start to develop hip dysplasia as they get older. As this happens, they’ll likely find that walking is hard for them.
If your dog has difficulty walking, then you won’t want to force them to do so. Alternative types of play might be necessary to accommodate German Shepherds that have developed this all too common condition.
What are the Best Exercises for a German Shepherd?
Walking is probably the single best exercise for an average healthy German Shepherd. Most GS dogs will love to go on long walks, and they might even take you for a walk if you’re not moving fast enough for them!
An energetic game of fetch with a Frisbee or a sturdy indestructible ball is also popular with many German Shepherds. You might find that your dog will appreciate any effort to make it more challenging, so hiding or obscuring the ball might lead to a more interesting game.
Particularly agile German Shepherds might like to run in a temporary obstacle course. You could use various discarded items to provide hurdle jumps, hoops and tunnels for your dog to explore.
Tug-of-war has become somewhat controversial among dog trainers, since there are those that claim it increases aggression in dogs. Many German Shepherds love this game, though, especially if you play it with a good strong purpose-made rope that won’t come apart in your dog’s mouth.
How to Exercise Your GSD in an Apartment
Perhaps the single best way to exercise a German Shepherd is to get him or her out of your apartment! These dogs need to burn off a lot of energy, and taking them to the park or for a walk is a great way for them to do it.
While they’re inside, there’s several ways you can make sure that they’re stimulated:
- Fetch: Depending on the size of your apartment, you may find that you have a clear pathway that’s long enough for you to throw a ball inside.
- Tug-of-War: Make your dog crouch and pull back while you’re playing tug-of-war, which can help to use up extra energy.
- Stair Exercise: Pet-friendly apartments may allow you to climb and descend stairs with your dog, which is popular with those who have larger breeds – not just GSDs!
- Dog Treadmill: While it might seem a little unusual, there are actually specialized treadmills designed to fit full-sized mature German Shepherds who live in relatively small spaces.
- Dog Puzzles: German Shepherds are known to be extremely intelligent, so you’ll want to try some handy puzzles as well. Get a toy that allows you to hide treats in it and your dog might be occupied for hours.
- Hide & Seek: You could also try strategically hiding dog treats around your apartment to further challenge your four-legged friend.
Can Your GSD Exercise Alone & How Do I Do That?
Your GSD can learn to exercise alone provided you’ve socialized him or her properly and given them enough things to otherwise keep busy. Providing your dog with plenty of toys and both mental and physical challenges will encourage them to exercise and burn off energy even when you’re not around.
Start by training your dog with something like a flirt pole, so that they learn how to run back and forth by themselves. Depending on how agile your dog is, you might consider putting together an obstacle course or other kind of structured designated play area.
Over time, you may even be able to train your dog to work through a regular exercise routine the way that the German Shepherd Man did:
If you have more than one dog, then you could teach them to play keep away with one another by having them share a toy. While you shouldn’t ever get another dog just to keep your first one company, this can be a great way to have them exercise alone if you already have a couple of GSDs.